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Thailand seals cooperation deal with Myanmar

Publication Date : 24-07-2012


Thailand and Myanmar yesterday agreed to set up a ministerial-level working group to implement comprehensive economic cooperation, particulary on achieving concrete progress in the Thai-invested Dawei seaport and economic zone.

The working group - details on the structure and components of which are not yet known - will hold its first meeting next month, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said.

It will look into issues related to the development of the Dawei project, including the securing of additional land needed for the development, taking into account the interests of communities living in and around the project areas, she said.

Italian-Thai Development is committed to investing at least 300 billion baht (US$9.4 billion) in the first phase of the project, which would provide Thailand with a short cut to the Indian Ocean and Myanmar with a gateway to mainland Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The project has come to the attention of the two governments as the private sector has made slow progress on the development because of financial constraints and a lack of strong political commitment from previous governments.

Thailand has highlighted economic cooperation during Myanmar President Thein Sein's current three-day official visit in a bid to support ongoing reforms in the country as well as for the benefit of regional connectivity.

Thein Sein expressed his appreciation to Thailand for supporting his efforts on political and economic reform as part of Myanmar's transition to democracy, and reiterated his determination to continue them.

The discussion with Yingluck focused on cooperation on capacity and institution building in Myanmar, strengthening cooperation on economic reforms to enhance people's livelihoods, and enhancing transport connectivity between the two countries, including the link between Dawei deep-sea port and Thailand's Eastern Seaboard, he said.

Yingluck reaffirmed the Thai government's commitment to push forward cooperation with Myanmar on the development of Dawei deep-sea port.

"In this connection, the two sides agreed there would be connectivity between Dawei deep-sea port and Laem Chabang seaport in Thailand. This is in the joint interests of Thailand and Myanmar and in the interest of the region," Yingluck told a joint press conference after a meeting with Thein Sein yesterday at Government House.

Thein Sein and his delegation visited Laem Chabang deep-sea port and an industrial estate in eastern Chon Buri province on Sunday, the first day of his trip.

The Myanmar president was accompanied by many ministers including those responsible for energy; commerce; economic planning and development; agriculture; and foreign affairs.

After a panel meeting between Yingluck and Thein Sein, concerned ministers signed three documents to forge cooperation on economic matters.

The documents are a memorandum of understanding on the comprehensive development in Dawei special economic zone and related projects in the area, an MoU on development cooperation in Myanmar, and a joint statement on the establishment of an energy forum.

The MoU on development cooperation involves Thai support for human-resource capacity-building in Myanmar; the readiness of Myanmar to take the Asean chairmanship in 2014; economic reform; sustainable development; and infrastructure development, Yingluck said.

She vowed enhanced cooperation to boost economic development in the border areas of the two countries. She also proposed the opening of three permanent border checkpoints in Kanchanaburi's Ban Pu Nam Ron, Mae Hong Son's Ban Huay Ton Noon and Chiang Mai's Kew Pa Wok to connect to Myanmar's Pyathuangsu, Kayah State and Shan State respectively.

Thailand also wants to open a temporary border checkpoint at Kanchanaburi's Ban Tako Bon to facilitate trade between the two countries and improve living conditions for local people, she said.


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